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Six Questions To Ask Your Vet If They Prescribe A New Medication For Your Dog

If your dog needs a prescription medicine from you vet to help to clear up a problem or manage an ongoing health condition, your vet should tell you everything you need to know about the medicine in detail, including why they are prescribing it, what it should do, and anything in particular you ought to know.

Prescription veterinary medicines (also known as POM-V or “prescription only medicine – veterinary”) are also issued with a data sheet or client information sheet for you to refer back to at home, which tells you lots of additional information about the medication too, including technical specifics like the batch number and when it was produced, and the complete range of active and inactive ingredients within it.

However, even assuming that your vet covers all of the bases and that you read the data sheet or information sheet for the prescription in question, there are a few other things that can be useful to know about your dog’s prescription, or might find that you will need to know about further down the line.

With this in mind, this article will tell you six questions you should ask your vet if they prescribe a new medication for your dog. Read on to learn more.

What are the potential side effects?

Virtually any medicine you can think of can have a range of side effects on the dog taking it, and some of these are far more common than others. The potential severity of side effects can vary too, ranging from “annoying but acceptable” through to “health risk, stop giving the medication and contact your vet ASAP.”

Any potential side effects should be advised by your vet and also mentioned in the medicine’s data sheet, but you should also clarify with your vet if there are any side effects that your dog is particularly likely to experience, and if there are any that are severe and dangerous that you should look out for too – and what to do if they occur.

How would I know if my dog had an allergic reaction to the medication?

Just as virtually all medications can have potential side effects, so too can virtually any substance you can think of trigger an allergic reaction in some dogs. This might be due to an active ingredient or something simple and generally harmless like the cellulose coating of a pill, but it is worth asking your vet how you could tell if your dog was allergic to the medication or had a very adverse reaction to it.

It might seem self-evident that you would know immediately if your dog became acutely ill as a result of the medication, but depending on what the medication is designed to treat, the symptoms might just as easily pertain to the underlying health condition as the medication used to treat it, with the dosage being incidental.


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How should I administer the medication?

Medications can be given in all manner of ways depending on what they are and what they are for, from orally, as a nasal spray, as a topical skin cream, as a suppository and so on – and your vet should explain to you in full not only how the medication needs to be given, but the logistics of administering it. 

They should also tell you things like when the meds need to be given, and details like if they might need to be given on a full or empty stomach, if relevant.

Do I need to give my dog all of the medication?

If your vet gives your dog a course of medications, you should usually give your dog the complete course and not stop just because your dog seems to be on the mend. This is particularly important for antibiotics, and your dog’s health will usually relapse if you stop antibiotics in the middle of a course.

However, some medications only need to be given as and when, like certain painkillers, or some allergy medications, so ask your vet if your dog needs to take all of their meds or if you should be guided by your dog’s symptoms and responses.

What should I do if my dog won’t take a dose, or I forget to give one?

It is important to be vigilant about giving your dog their medications when they are due, and to avoid being late with a dose or missing one entirely. However, if you do find that your dog has missed a dose or if they simply refuse to take a dose, ask your vet what to do then.

Some medications will need to be doubled up so that you give the prior dose along with the following one, whilst for others, you should move right on to the next dose, so find out about this first.

How can I arrange to buy the medicine elsewhere?

Finally, whatever your dog is prescribed, you don’t have to buy it from your vet themselves – you can ask your vet to issue you with a prescription (which they will charge for and you should expect to pay) for you to use to purchase from elsewhere, such as a reputable UK-based online pet pharmacy. 

This will almost certainly save you money over the cost of buying from your vet directly. Additionally, some medications that your vet may prescribe can actually be bought over the counter from pharmacies – like certain antihistamines, which will be the exact same products your vet sells to you at the clinic.

Ask your vet if there is an over the counter equivalent medication you can buy more cheaply, and how you can arrange to get your next prescription to purchase elsewhere, if you wish. 

Bear in mind that if you do choose to buy from somewhere other than your own vet, the medication won’t be available immediately, so the chances are that you will need to buy the first prescription medication from your vet themselves so that your dog begins treatment immediately.

However, for ongoing issues and repeat prescriptions, talk to your vet about planning ahead to order online if you wish, and compare the costs beforehand, factoring in the prescription charge your vet will make too.


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